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Home > Students > Financial Aid > Federal Direct Loan Program

Federal Direct Loan Program

The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans and PLUS loans. These loans are federal student loans for eligible students and/or parent to assist with the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, trade, career, or technical school.

Basic eligibility requirements for students requesting a Direct Loan:

  • Students must be enrolled in at least 6 units at the Coast Community College District.
  • Students must have met satisfactory academic requirements.
  • Students must be enrolled in an eligible program of study.
  • First-time borrowers may not receive subsidized loans for more than 150% of the length of program of study. For example, if you are enrolled in a 2-year associate degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive a Direct Subsidized Loan is 3 years (150% of 2 years = 3 years). If you are enrolled in a certificate program that is 32 weeks, the maximum period for which you can receive a Direct Subsidized Loan is 48 weeks (150% of 32 = 48 weeks).The Department of Education may stop paying your interest subsidy if you exceed that limit. Please check with your financial aid specialist at your campus for additional information.

 

Military Students

In acknowledgement of your service to our country, there are special benefits and repayment options for your student loans available from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Defense. For more information about Federal Student Aid for military students Click Here.

How to Apply

As with all federal student aid, you apply for Direct Loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The information on your FAFSA is transmitted to the schools that you list on the application, and those schools use the information to assess your financial need for student aid. 

Steps to apply for a loan after the FAFSA has been completed.
Contact your financial aid office; they will guide you in the completion of the required documents. A Loan Request Form is required by each campus for all loans. This document will be placed on your online financial aid file.

Once you have completed the Loan Request Form from your campus, go to www.studentloans.gov and complete the following:

I. Required Counseling Sessions:  Students who are requesting loans must complete the entrance counseling sessions.    

Entrance Counseling

II. Once you have completed the Direct Loan entrance counseling sessions, you will need to complete the Master Promissory Note - Master Promissory Note

 

III. If this is your last semester, you will need to complete the exit counseling sessions prior to the second disbursement of your loan. Exit Counseling

Repayment begins six months after you graduate or cease to be at least a halftime student. You will generally have 10 years to pay back your loan. Your monthly payment will usually be more than $200, but never less than $50. It is the borrower's responsibility to maintain contact with the United States Department of Education and to establish a repayment schedule. The borrower's failure to inform the United States Department of Education of changes in enrollment status, anticipated graduation dates, current address, name, deferment eligibility, or college of attendance may result in default on the student loan.

Accepting a Loan

The Financial Aid Office will tell you the loan amounts that it is offering, check your online financial aid account with your campus for the amount of your loan.  You should evaluate the loan offer carefully. In the case of loans, keep in mind that whatever amount you borrow must be paid back with interest. If your living expenses are not as high as the standard allowance projected by your school, you may not have to borrow as much as the amount offered. The Department of Education offers financial awareness counseling -  Financial Awareness Counseling

You have the right to decline the loan or to request a lower loan amount.  This is done through your online financial aid account.

PLUS Loans

This is a loan that parents may request to assist a student with his/her costs of attendance.

A credit check will be performed and used to determine the loan amount.

Credit check & endorser alternative

When you apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, the Department will check your credit history. To be eligible to receive a PLUS loan, you must not have an adverse credit history. If you are determined to have an adverse credit history, you may still receive a Direct PLUS Loan if you obtain an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if you do not repay the loan. If you are a parent borrowing on behalf of your dependent student, the endorser may not be the student on whose behalf a parent obtains a Direct PLUS Loan. In some cases, you may also be able to obtain a Direct PLUS Loan if you document to our satisfaction that there are extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history.

Loan Limitations

 

California public two year institutions have the lowest enrollment fees and tuition in the nation; and, Direct Loans have aggregate limitations for undergraduate students. As such, students are advised to borrow wisely and only borrow what you need so that you have remaining funds to complete your four-year degree.

The amount of financial aid a student may receive cannot exceed the student's cost of attendance (COA) and/or financial need.  Your student budget is located on your online financial aid file; log in through MyOCC, MyGWC, or MyCCC. If your expenses are over and above the budget, please schedule an appointment to meet with a financial aid specialist at your campus.

 

Direct Stafford Loan Limits (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)
 Undergraduate studentsGraduate students
Dependent1Independent2
1st-year$5,500 ($3,500)3$9,500 ($3,500)$20,500 ($8,5004) for each year
2nd-year$6,500 ($4,500)$10,500 ($4,500)
3rd- and 4th-year$7,500 ($5,500)$12,500 ($5,500)
Aggregate$31,000 ($23,000)$57,500 ($23,000)$138,5005 ($65,500)

1Except those whose parents are unable to borrow a PLUS loan.
2These limits also apply to dependent students whose parents are unable to borrow a PLUS loan.
3The numbers in parentheses represent the maximum amount that may be subsidized.
4Graduate and professional students are not eligible to receive Direct Subsidized Loans for loan periods beginning on or after July 1, 2012.
5The aggregate amounts for graduate students include loans for undergraduate study.

The actual loan amount you are eligible to receive for an academic year is determined by your school and may be less than the maximum annual amounts shown in the chart above. The aggregate limits include both Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and any subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans received through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.

With a Direct PLUS Loan, a graduate/professional student or the parent of a dependent student can borrow up to the cost of the student's attendance minus other financial aid the student receives. 

Generally, you'll have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan (there are several) you choose.

The Direct Loan Servicing Center will notify you of the date your first payment is due. If you do not choose a repayment plan, you will be placed on the Standard Repayment Plan, with fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Most Direct Loan borrowers choose to stay with the Standard Repayment Plan, but there are other options for borrowers who may need more time to repay or who need to make lower payments at the beginning of the repayment period.

You can change repayment plans at any time by going to the Direct Loan Servicing Center's website and logging in to your account.

While you're in repayment


Generally, you'll have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan (there are several) you choose.

Your loan servicer will notify you of the date your first payment is due. If you do not choose a repayment plan, you will be placed on the standard repayment plan, with fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Most Direct Loan borrowers choose to stay with the standard repayment plan, but there are other options for borrowers who may need more time to repay or who need to make lower payments at the beginning of the repayment period.

You can change repayment plans at any time by contacting your loan servicer.

Automated payments (electronic debit)

When you receive your first bill, you'll learn how you can sign up for the electronic debit account (EDA) option and have your bank automatically make your monthly loan payments for you from your checking or savings account. You won't have to write checks, use stamps, or worry if your payment will arrive by the due date. In addition you'll receive a 0.25% reduction in the interest rate on your loans during any period when your payments are made through EDA.

Trouble making payments

If you're having trouble making payments on your loans, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. Their staff will work with you to determine the best option for you. Options include:

  • Changing repayment plans.
  • Deferment, if you meet certain requirements. A deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan.
  • Forbearance, if you don't meet the eligibility requirements for a deferment but are temporarily unable to make your loan payments. A forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments. Read more about deferments and forbearance.

If you stop making payments and don't get a deferment or forbearance, your loan could go into default, which has serious consequences—see below.

Your loan first becomes "delinquent" if your monthly payment is not received by the due date. If you fail to make a payment, you'll receive a reminder that your payment is late. If your account remains delinquent, you'll receive warning notices reminding you of the consequences of default and of your obligation to repay your loans.

If you are delinquent on your loan payments, contact your loan servicer immediately to find out how to bring your account current. Late fees may be added, and your delinquency will be reported to one or more national consumer reporting agencies (credit bureaus), but this is much better than remaining delinquent on your payments and going into default.

Consequences of default

If you default:

  • We will require you to immediately repay the entire unpaid amount of your loan.
  • We may sue you, take all or part of your federal and state tax refunds and other federal or state payments, and/or garnish your wages so that your employer is required to send us part of your salary to pay off your loan.
  • We will require you to pay reasonable collection fees and costs, plus court costs and attorney fees.
  • You may be denied a professional license.
  • You will lose eligibility for other federal student aid and assistance under most federal benefit programs.
  • You will lose eligibility for loan deferments.
  • We will report your default to national consumer reporting agencies (credit bureaus).

For more information and to learn what actions to take if you default on your loans, see the Department's Debt Resolution website.

Loan cancellation (forgiveness or discharge)

Under certain conditions, you can have all or part of your loan cancelled or discharged. Read more about loan cancellation.

What's next?

Stay in touch with your loan servicer—let them know if you've changed your name or permanent address, and make sure that they know when you've completed your educational program or transferred to another school.